In the bustling streets of Kolkata, Manzilat Fatima, the great-great-granddaughter of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, and Hazrat Mahal, is a remarkable food entrepreneur who has not only upheld but also popularized the rich Awadhi cuisine. Her culinary journey began with a profound intention – to shed light on the historical significance of Muslim food in Kolkata, traced back to Lucknow, often referred to as “mini-Lucknow” here.
Awakening Awareness through Food
A Historical Connection Rediscovered
Manzilat embarked on her culinary journey to realize the connection between the delectable dishes served in Kolkata and their ancestral origins in Lucknow. She observed that many Kolkata residents would travel to Lucknow during the Pujas to savor iconic dishes like ulta tawa parantha, galawati kebab, biryani, and pulao. However, the historical ties between the food served in the two cities often needed to be noticed.
Gradual Popularity through Pop-Ups
Initially, Manzilat needed a clear roadmap. However, her peers and friends appreciated her cooking, and she began organizing pop-up events in Kolkata, showcasing Awadhi cuisine’s flavours. Her culinary creations gained popularity through word-of-mouth, and food enthusiasts started inquiring about her menus.
From Hesitation to Hospitality
Serving Haleem for Ramazan
Manzilat’s journey wasn’t without its moments of hesitation. She pondered the fine line between home-cooked food and professional culinary offerings. It was during the month of Ramazan when she decided to serve Haleem, a traditional dish, and announced it on social media. The response was encouraging, with friends, relatives, and the media praising her culinary skills.
The Confidence Grows
As the first year passed, Ramadaan Haleem became increasingly popular. Some customers expressed their desire to sit and savor her food at her place, even willing to use the stairs, as Haleem is best enjoyed hot. Touched by this gesture, Manzilat arranged a table and chairs for her customers.
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